Wednesday, January 13, 2021

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Latest Half-Dozen Posts (Full Text)

Democracy Is Not a Spectator Sport

Democracy Is Not a Spectator Sport

Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, January 13, 2021, p. A6

On Feb. 14, 2014, Donald Trump told Fox, "When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell, and everything is a disaster, then you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be, when we were great.”

By January 6, 2021, the economy had crashed, our federal government’s pandemic response was the world’s worst, and it seemed like “everything is a disaster.”

It was time for a Trump rally. He claimed “hundreds of thousands of American patriots” were there. The Park Service permit approved 30,000, and with no official count, the media settled on “thousands.”

Trump told them, “After this, we’re going to walk down — and I’ll be there with you — to the Capitol . . .because you’ll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength, and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing."

Minutes later, at the Capitol, we watched his followers’ “show strength” by staging one of Trump’s predicted “riots to go back to . . . when we were great.”

Some Americans are aware of our slowly crumbling columns of democracy, institutions essential to democracy’s creation and preservation. For them, Trump’s January 6 mob was no surprise. Riots are a part of the endgame in an authoritarian-wannabe’s playbook. It was only a matter of time.

Turns out representative democracy is not universally popular among Americans. The Pew Research Center found 13% thought it totally bad; others thought substitutions for elected officials with direct democracy (29%), experts (40%), strong leaders (22%), or military rule (17%) good ideas.

More voted last Nov. 3 than in any election for 120 years. That was 67% of eligible voters. One-third didn’t vote. An Ipsos survey revealed 23% were “not interested in politics.”

A democracy is fragile, and subject to President Lyndon Johnson’s observation that, “It takes a carpenter to build a barn, but any jackass can knock it down.”

We cannot know if it will be possible to rebuild our shattered democracy. What we do know is that it cannot be rebuilt just by substituting one president for another. It cannot be rebuilt by those who just “believe in” democracy or merely prefer it to alternatives.

It will require those who recognize and work to oppose attacks on the columns of democracy. A democracy requires an educated electorate, a trusted and independent mass media, a wise and nonpartisan judiciary, and efforts to increase, rather than suppress, ease of voting.

Inadequate education and library budgets are an attack on democracy. So is failure to support media with subscriptions and advertising, talk of “fake news” and “enemy of the people,” reverse Robin Hood legislation, or treating courts as a third political branch of government.

Are you willing to watch a little less television to have time for calls and emails to officials? Share more of the resources you can afford with local media and democracy-promoting candidates? Help sturdy our crumbling columns of democracy? [Image: Constitutional Convention of 1787, National Park Service]

If there are enough of us doing that, we have a prayer of rebuilding our barn, the democracy our founders hoped for. If not, we’re just waiting for the next authoritarian-wannabe, and the next January 6.

Nicholas Johnson of Iowa City is the author of Columns of Democracy (2018). Contact: mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

SOURCES

"When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell, and everything is a disaster, then you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be, when we were great.” “Donald Trump’s 2014 Political Predictions,” Fox News Interview, video, 6:26, Feb. 10, 2014, 2:02-2:12 https://video.foxnews.com/v/3179604851001#sp=show-clips Snopes https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/trump-economy-crashing-quote/

"After this, we’re going to walk down — and I’ll be there with you — . . . to the Capitol . . .. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength, and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing . . .." Trump, Jan 6, 2021

"Donald Trump Speech 'Save America' Rally Transcript," Jan. 6, 2021, Segment beginning 16:25, https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/donald-trump-speech-save-america-rally-transcript-january-6

Snopes: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/trump-tell-supporters-storm/

Crowd size. “How Many Were at the MAGA Trump March & Protest in DC? Crowd Size Photos,” copy of Park Service permit (5000; modified to 30,000). Reports: “thousands” at rally “hundreds” at Capitol. https://heavy.com/news/maga-march-trump-dc-rally-crowd-photos/

NYTimes collection of stories: https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/01/06/us/washington-dc-protests

Support for democracy: Richard Wike, Katie Simmons, Bruce Stokes and Janell Fetterolf, “Democracy widely supported, little backing for rule by strong leader or military,” Pew Research Center, Oct. 10, 2017, https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2017/10/16/democracy-widely-supported-little-backing-for-rule-by-strong-leader-or-military/

Percentage voting: Domenico Montanaro, “Poll: Despite Record Turnout, 80 Million Americans Didn't Vote. Here's Why,” Dec. 15, 2020, NPR, https://www.npr.org/2020/12/15/945031391/poll-despite-record-turnout-80-million-americans-didnt-vote-heres-why
Ipsos survey: "Nonvoters' reasons for not voting include: not being registered to vote (29%); not being interested in politics (23%) . . .." Ibid.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Vaccines Are Coming!

The Vaccines Are Coming, Eventually

Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, December 16, 2020, p. A6

The vaccines are coming! The vaccines are coming!

Hold it. No, they’re not. Not for most of us. Not now.

For maybe six months our “vaccine” remains “wear your mask, social distance, and wash your hands.”

By then, hopefully, over 70 percent of Americans will be vaccinated or next in line -- the participation required to restrain COVID-19. Can enough anti-vax folks be converted? Acceptance percentages are increasing, but a recent poll indicated, at that time, even 60 percent of nurses and 40 percent of doctors were not planning to be vaccinated.

There are reasons why most drugs’ clinical trials take years not months. Participants in the BioNTech SE (Pfizer) trial will be followed for two more years while the vaccine is being administered.

There’s no rational reason to refuse inoculation. But there are still questions, and evolving answers, as the world’s beta test group expands from thousands to millions. Here’s a checklist. [Photo credit: maine.gov]

Global pandemics require global eradiction. It took the World Health Organization 25 years to eradicate smallpox.

The BioNTech SE vaccine requires refrigeration at minus 94 degrees. Packing requires dry ice, now in short supply. Dry ice produces CO2 that, on planes, risks combustion.

Only 25 countries have access to minus-94-degree refrigeration, thereby excluding five billion people from vaccination.

Nor is equity guaranteed in the U.S. distribution to people of color, the poor, immigrants, prisoners, and low population rural areas.

Best case, distribution from manufacturers’ plants to Americans’ arms is a logistics nightmare, and the last mile is 50 governors’ responsibility. How has that been working for us the last 10 months?

What does “inoculation” mean? Will everyone show up for their second shot? What’s known about dosages? AstraZeneca discovered cutting the first dose in half dramatically improved results. Protection for mild infections only or more? For six months or a lifetime? Will annual vaccinations be required? Can those vaccinated still infect others? Has anyone been tasked with maintaining a national database of those vaccinated?

Little is known about the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness with children, pregnant women, and the oldest of the elderly. Five of the FDA’s Advisory Committee did not vote for approval, two because it was approved for those 16 and above. Two cases have revealed additional side effects for those with allergies. What additional side effects may emerge, for which groups, and how serious will they be?

Follow the money. Is this a profit maximization operation? Or is healthcare a right – especially when no one is protected from a global pandemic until everyone is? Who pays? Who profits? How much? Vaccine recipients? Individual states? The federal government? Pfizer’s CEO glowingly proclaimed its vaccine a success. The stock price escalated and he sold $5 million of his Pfizer shares at a profit.

Ultimately, every American who wants a vaccine can have one. By then we’ll know more about these vaccines. They can help mitigate COVID-19 cases and deaths. Sadly, our need, our goal is not mitigation but global eradication.
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Nicholas Johnson, Iowa City, is former Co-Director of the Institute for Health, Behavior and Environmental Policy. mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

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SOURCES

Note: References for the data cited within this column are contained, below, sometimes with additional information, in the order in which they appear in the column.

70% for protection.

Janelle Wang, “Doctors: 70% Need to Get Vaccinated for Herd Immunity,” NBC Bay Area, last visited December 11, 2020, https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/coronavirus/doctors-70-need-to-get-vaccinated-for-herd-immunity/2417183/ (“Doctors say at least 70% of people need to get the coronavirus vaccine in order to eradicate the pandemic.”)

60% nurses, 40% doctors won’t get vaccinated. David Martin, "Inside the Operation Warp Speed effort to get Americans a COVID-19 vaccine," CBS, 60 Minutes, Nov. 8, 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-19-vaccine-distribution-60-minutes-2020-11-08/ ("[New Jersey Health Commissioner] Judith Perisichelli: 'We surveyed 2,000 health care individuals, physicians and nurses and we know that over 60% of the physicians said that they would get the vaccine. We know that about 40% of the nurses said that they would line up to get the vaccine.'")

Ed Silverman, "STAT-Harris Poll: The share of Americans interested in getting Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible is dropping," Stat News, Oct. 19, 2020, https://www.statnews.com/pharmalot/2020/10/19/covid19-coronavirus-pandemic-vaccine-racial-disparities/

Trials take years.

Elan Kantor, "How Long Do Clinical Trials Take?" Antidote, March 24, 2020, https://www.antidote.me/blog/how-long-do-clinical-trials-take (“Looking at the big picture, it takes approximately ten years for a new treatment to complete the journey from initial discovery to the marketplace. Clinical trials alone take six to seven years on average to complete.”)

Katie Thomas, David Gelles and Carl Zimmer, "Pfizer’s Early Data Shows Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective," New York Times, Nov. 12, 2020; print edition Nov. 10, 2020, p. A1, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/09/health/covid-vaccine-pfizer.html (“Independent scientists have cautioned against hyping early results before long-term safety and efficacy data has been collected.”)

Pfizer to follow for 2 years.

Erika Edwards, "Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine promising, but many questions remain; Pfizer's vaccine is a new type of technology that's never been used in mass human vaccination," NBC News, Nov. 10, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/pfizer-s-covid-19-vaccine-promising-many-questions-remain-n1247102 (Pfizer's chief executive officer, Albert Bourla, told CNBC Monday that the drug maker will follow participants for two years to analyze safety and ongoing protection. 'As time progresses, we will find out about the durability of the protection,' Bourla said.”)

There are still questions.

“Erika Edwards, "Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine promising, but many questions remain; Pfizer's vaccine is a new type of technology that's never been used in mass human vaccination," NBC News, Nov. 10, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/pfizer-s-covid-19-vaccine-promising-many-questions-remain-n1247102 ("Pfizer's vaccine is a new type of technology that's never been used in mass human vaccination before and experts caution that much remains unknown about its safety, how long it might work and who might benefit most.")

Smallpox.

History of Smallpox, CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/smallpox/history/history.html

-94F.

Catherine Ho, “Pfizer Vaccine Needs to be Stored at minus 94 Degrees Fahrenheit; Is the Bay Area Prepared to do that?” San Francisco Chronicle, November 9, 2020, https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Some-coronavirus-vaccines-need-to-be-stored-at-15711275.php

Dry ice; combustion.

Elisabeth Buchwald, “The perils of transporting millions of COVID-19 vaccines with dry ice across the U.S.,” MarketWatch, December 10, 2020, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-challenges-and-perils-of-transporting-millions-of-covid-19-vaccines-with-dry-ice-across-the-u-s-11607355179 (“there are safety concerns about transporting large quantities of dry ice, which can emit carbon dioxide, on airplanes. Packaging dry ice in a container that does not allow adequate release of the gas could cause the container to explode from the built-up levels of pressure, a process known as sublimation. Dry ice can also deprive a confined space of oxygen, making it difficult to breathe. . . . the U.S. Department of Transportation and the International Air Transport Association classify dry ice as hazardous when transported. . . . The FAA has said it would allow United Airlines … to carry 15,000 pounds of dry ice per flight — five times more than normally permitted, The Wall Street Journal reported.”)

David Gelles, “How to Ship a Vaccine at –80°C, and Other Obstacles in the Covid Fight,” New York Times, September 19, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/18/business/coronavirus-covid-vaccine-cold-frozen-logistics.html ("When dry ice melts, it emits carbon dioxide, making the air on planes potentially unsafe for pilots and crew." "Dry ice . . . is made from carbon dioxide, . . . created as a byproduct during the production of ethanol. . . . This spring . . . people began driving less . . . ethanol production slumped, and so did the supply of carbon dioxide.")

25 countries with refrigeration.

David Gelles, “How to Ship a Vaccine at –80°C, and Other Obstacles in the Covid Fight,” New York Times, September 19, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/18/business/coronavirus-covid-vaccine-cold-frozen-logistics.html (“A recent study by DHL and McKinsey found that a cold vaccine would be accessible to about 2.5 billion people in 25 countries. Large parts of Africa, South America and Asia, where super-cold freezers are sparse, would be left out.”)

Governors’ responsibility.

Katie Thomas, David Gelles and Carl Zimmer, "Pfizer’s Early Data Shows Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective," New York Times, Nov. 12, 2020; print edition Nov. 10, 2020, p. A1, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/09/health/covid-vaccine-pfizer.html (“it remains unclear where people will receive the shots, and what role the government will play in distribution.")

Astrazeneca half-dose.

Kaiser Health News, “New Results Confirm AstraZeneca’s Half-Dose ‘Mistake’ Is 90% Effective,” December 9, 2020, https://khn.org/morning-breakout/new-results-confirm-astrazenecas-half-dose-mistake-is-90-effective/ (“The partial results published in The Lancet on Tuesday confirmed that the two full doses given at least one month apart appeared to be 62% effective, while a half dose followed by a full dose was about 90% effective.”)

Immunization meaning.

Katie Thomas, David Gelles and Carl Zimmer, "Pfizer’s Early Data Shows Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective," New York Times, Nov. 12, 2020; print edition Nov. 10, 2020, p. A1, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/09/health/covid-vaccine-pfizer.html (“no one knows how long the vaccine’s protection might last.” “an independent board reviewing the data has not told her or other company executives other details, such as how many of the people developed mild versus more severe forms of Covid-19.”)

Erika Edwards, "Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine promising, but many questions remain; Pfizer's vaccine is a new type of technology that's never been used in mass human vaccination," NBC News, Nov. 10, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/pfizer-s-covid-19-vaccine-promising-many-questions-remain-n1247102 (“would people previously sick with Covid-19 be protected against reinfection? That remains unclear.”)

Erika Edwards, "Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine promising, but many questions remain; Pfizer's vaccine is a new type of technology that's never been used in mass human vaccination," NBC News, Nov. 10, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/pfizer-s-covid-19-vaccine-promising-many-questions-remain-n1247102 (“This first analysis only included data on 94 confirmed Covid-19 cases, meaning there is no proof yet that the vaccine prevented infection.”)

Children, pregnant women, elderly.

Erika Edwards, "Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine promising, but many questions remain; Pfizer's vaccine is a new type of technology that's never been used in mass human vaccination," NBC News, Nov. 10, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/pfizer-s-covid-19-vaccine-promising-many-questions-remain-n1247102 ("'We don't know anything about groups they didn't study, like children, pregnant women, highly immunocompromised people and the eldest of the elderly,' Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota, said.")

Four dissenters.

Laurie McGinley, Carolyn Y. Johnson and Joel Achenbach, “FDA says it ‘will rapidly work toward’ authorization of Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine,” Washington Post, December 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/12/10/fda-advisory-panel-recommends-covid-vaccine/ (“The committee voted yes, 17 in favor, four against and one abstention. . . . at least two dissenters objected to inclusion of 16- and 17-year-olds, given . . . how few had participated in the trial.”)

Alergies.

Danica Kirka, “UK Probes Whether COVID-19 Vaccine Caused Allergic Reactions,” Associated Press, December 9, 2020, https://apnews.com/article/uk-allergic-reaction-pfizer-vaccine-64ddccd70c38a39f880da27941db3540 ; The Gazette, December 10, 2020, p. A4

Who pays?

Riley Griffin, Drew Armstrong and Bloomberg, "Germany funded the development of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine—not U.S.’s Operation Warp Speed," Fortune, Nov. 9, 2020, https://fortune.com/2020/11/09/pfizer-vaccine-funding-warp-speed-germany/

Katie Thomas, David Gelles and Carl Zimmer, "Pfizer’s Early Data Shows Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective," New York Times, Nov. 12, 2020; print edition Nov. 10, 2020, p. A1, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/09/health/covid-vaccine-pfizer.html (“Operation Warp Speed, the federal effort to rush a vaccine to market, has promised Pfizer $1.95 billion to deliver 100 million doses to the federal government”).

Pfizer CEO. Reuters Staff, "Pfizer CEO made $5.6 million stock sale on same day as COVID-19 vaccine update: filing," Business News, Reuters, Nov. 11, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/pfizer-albert-bourla-stake/pfizer-ceo-made-5-6-million-stock-sale-on-same-day-as-covid-19-vaccine-update-filing-idUSKBN27R1XL

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Tags: anti-vax, AstraZeneca, BioNTech, children, COVID-19, doses, dry ice, eradication, FDA, herd immunity, immunization, infection, logistics, mitigation, Moderna, Pfizer, smallpox, vaccine, vaccination

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Friday, November 13, 2020

Why Vaccine Is Not The Answer

Why Vaccine Is Not The Answer
Nicholas Johnson
November 12, 2020

Two days ago, in "Eradicating COVID-19 Should Be Goal" (The Gazette, November 10, 2020, p. A6), with strict space limits, this is all that was said about vaccines:
What about a vaccine . . . ?

Yes, a vaccine ultimately eliminated global smallpox. But consider the history. . . .

In 1959 the World Health Organization began its global eradication effort. The last death occurred in 1978, and WHO declared mission accomplished in 1980. Although . . . “vaccination” might mitigate [COVID-19's spread it is not] the answer. [Vaccination] is rejected by many, takes too long, and produces many thousands of avoidable additional deaths.
COVID-19 is a global pandemic. The world's people will not be safe from its spread until it has been eradicated in all nations. It took the WHO 21 years from start to completion of that task for smallpox -- and that was after it already had been eradicated in the U.S. and Europe! There is no reason to believe that global eradication of COVID-19 can be accomplished any quicker.

With a quick response and properly done, the test-trace-quarantine-isolate approach can eradicate COVID-19 from a given population and area in roughly two months. See "How to Eliminate COVID-19," (The The Gazette, April 4, 2020, p. A6). (Obviously, it would take much longer if there are delays in response, the coronavirus has spread to a large percentage of the population, and large areas and populations are involved -- as currently is the case in the U.S.)

1. Delay. So lengthy delays are one reason "why vaccine is not the answer." Obviously, a vaccine can be one of a number of efforts at mitigation ("flattening the increasing curve" of infected persons) along with mandatory masks, social distancing, shelter in place, limiting the size of gatherings, and closing some businesses. However, as the column, "Eradicating COVID-19 Should Be Goal," linked above, points out, mitigation efforts, while helpful, are not eradication.

There are many other drawbacks to vaccines in general and the Pfizer vaccine in particular. A list of categories (with discussion of each below) might include: distribution, new technology untested on humans, lengthy trials to prove they are safe and effective, the risks with "Warp Speed," groups omitted from study (e.g., children, pregnant women, eldest), lack of knowledge about nature of immunization, possibility of reinfection, impact on contagion, the widespread public rejection of vaccines, need for two doses.

2. Distribution logistics; Cold-Chain complications; Equitable distribution. Global distribution of a vaccine to 7.5 billion people is an extraordinary logistics challenge under the best of conditions. Pfizer's vaccine requires jumping over even more severe hurdles.

Cold-chain complications. "Wide distribution of Pfizer’s vaccine will be a logistical challenge. Because it is made with mRNA, the doses will need to be kept at ultra cold temperatures. While Pfizer has developed a special cooler to transport the vaccine . . . it remains unclear where people will receive the shots, and what role the government will play in distribution." [NYT] "A number of the leading Covid-19 vaccines under development will need to be kept at temperatures as low as . . . minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit . . . [until] they are ready to be injected into patients’ arms. . . . [These vaccines are] made with genetic materials that fall apart when they thaw. . . . Vaccines may be manufactured on one continent and shipped to another. They will go from logistics hub to logistics hub before ending up at the hospitals and other facilities that will administer them. . . . 'We’re only now beginning to understand the complexities of the delivery side of all of this,' said J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a research firm."

Nor is temperature maintenance easy when shipping the vaccine by air. "When dry ice melts, it emits carbon dioxide, making the air on planes potentially unsafe for pilots and crew." Moreover, "Dry ice . . . is made from carbon dioxide, . . . created as a byproduct during the production of ethanol. . . . This spring . . . people began driving less . . . ethanol production slumped, and so did the supply of carbon dioxide."

"Pfizer has designed . . . boxes . . . [to] hold a couple of hundred glass vials, each containing 10 to 20 doses of vaccine. . . . All of this leads to another problem: Glass often cracks in extreme cold." Moreover, "There wouldn’t be enough cold-resistant glass vials to handle a frozen vaccine, said Brendan Mosher, Corning’s head of pharmaceutical technologies."

Equitable distribution. "[E]everyday pharmacies are unlikely to be equipped to stockpile large quantities of vaccines that require ultracold storage. . . . strict temperature requirements 'will make it very difficult for community clinics and local pharmacies to store and administer.'. . . [A] cold vaccine would be accessible to about 2.5 billion people in 25 countries. Large parts of Africa, South America and Asia, where super-cold freezers are sparse, would be left out. 'The consequence is to reinforce the staggering bias in favor of the wealthy and powerful few countries,' said Mr. Morrison, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies." [NYT-2]

3. New Technology. "Pfizer's vaccine is a new type of technology that's never been used in mass human vaccination before and experts caution that much remains unknown about its safety, how long it might work and who might benefit most." [NBC]

4. Lengthy trials and "Warp Speed." "[I]t takes approximately ten years for a new treatment to complete the journey from initial discovery to the marketplace. Clinical trials alone take six to seven years on average to complete." [Antidote] [FDA] "Operation Warp Speed's goal is to produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines with the initial doses available by January 2021, as part of a broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics . . .." [HHS] [Photo credit: InsideHigherEd]

"Independent scientists have cautioned against hyping early results before long-term safety and efficacy data has been collected. . . . The data released by Pfizer Monday was delivered in a news release, not a peer-reviewed medical journal. It is not conclusive evidence that the vaccine is safe and effective, and the initial finding of more than 90 percent efficacy could change as the trial goes on." [NYT] Warp speed is a worrying speed when it comes to vaccines -- not the least of which is what we don't know for sure about its safety and efficacy, and the other topics in this blog post.

5. Trial's omissions. "'We don't know anything about groups they didn't study, like children, pregnant women, highly immunocompromised people and the eldest of the elderly,' Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota, said." [NBC]

6. Immunization, Infection, Contagion. "It's also uncertain how long such protection might last. That answer can only come with time, as it's impossible to know yet whether immunity remains for months, a year, two years — or a lifetime. . . . Pfizer's chief executive officer, Albert Bourla, told CNBC Monday that the drug maker will follow participants for two years to analyze safety and ongoing protection. 'As time progresses, we will find out about the durability of the protection,' Bourla said. 'We will see how long the immunogenicity lasts and how long the cell immunity lasts.'" "This first analysis only included data on 94 confirmed Covid-19 cases, meaning there is no proof yet that the vaccine prevented infection." "It is unclear whether people who received the vaccine were less likely to be contagious." "'It's not necessarily going to protect you from infection, and it may not work for everyone,' Haseltine said Monday on MSNBC. 'But it should be useful for many people. And it should moderate the severity of disease.'"[NBC]

"[N]o one knows how long the vaccine’s protection might last. . . . [Pfizer senior vice president Dr. Kathrin] Jansen said that because the trial is continuing, an independent board reviewing the data has not told her or other company executives other details, such as how many of the people developed mild versus more severe forms of Covid-19 — crucial information that the F.D.A. has said it will need to evaluate any coronavirus vaccine." [NYT] "We don't yet have details about whether the vaccine blocked mainly mild cases, or if there is evidence that it seemed to prevent some severe infections, too. . . . [A]t this point, there’s no way to estimate how long protection from this or any Covid vaccine would last. The duration of protection will only become clear after the vaccines are in use for a while." [Stat] "[Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group pointed out] 'And would people previously sick with Covid-19 be protected against reinfection? That remains unclear.'" [NBC]

7. Public rejection. "Overall, 58% of the U.S. public said they would get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine was available . . .. That change suggests growing concern that the regulatory approval process for a Covid-19 vaccine has been politicized by the Trump administration . . .. 'There’s a historical level of distrust,' said [Harris Poll Managing Director Rob] Jekielek. 'And when you think about stalling the spread of Covid-19, these findings indicate that we face an increasingly bigger problem.'" [Stat-2] "[New Jersey Health Commissioner] Judith Perisichelli: 'We surveyed 2,000 health care individuals, physicians and nurses and we know that over 60% of the physicians said that they would get the vaccine. We know that about 40% of the nurses said that they would line up to get the vaccine.'" [CBS] The point of these percentages is the huge proportion of Americans who will not be vaccinated, making vaccination at best a part of a path to mitigation, but not eradication.

8. Two doses. "Pfizer has said it will not apply for emergency use authorization of its vaccine candidate until it has collected two months of safety information following the final dose of the vaccine. Pfizer's vaccine requires two doses, about a month apart." [NBC] Another drawback of the Pfizer vaccine is the requirement of two doses a month apart. For the populations within a school or workplace it is relatively easier to complete this routine: a week can be designated during which everyone will get the first shot, and a month later another week designated to give them the second dose, with records kept, and follow ups for those who missed one or the other dose during the designated times. But for individuals outside of such groups many things can interfere with the scheduled second dose: simple forgetfulness, a change of mind, the rationalization that one dose was probably enough, a trip or move out of town, being laid up with some other disease. The possibilities are endless. And there is still that resistance, described above in "Public rejection," of those unwilling to take any vaccine, for any disease, whether it's one dose or two.

9. Follow the money. Pfizer claimed to have received no taxpayer money. "Vice President Mike Pence was among Trump administration officials saying support from the government’s Operation Warp Speed program helped accelerate the development of the vaccine . . .. [Pfizer's] Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla has repeatedly said that the drug giant has avoided taking taxpayer dollars for research and development purposes. . . . Pfizer didn’t receive any funding from Operation Warp Speed for the development, clinical trial and manufacturing of the vaccine. Rather, its partner, BioNTech SE, has received money [$445 million] -- from the German government." And Pfizer was promised in advance the U.S. government would buy 100 million doses of the vaccine for $2 billion. ("The Trump administration agreed in July to pay almost $2 billion for 100 million doses, with an option to acquire as many as 500 million more, once that clearance comes. . . . As part of that agreement, the U.S. gets to decide who gets the vaccine first . . .."). [Fortune] Since two doses are required, that works out to $40 per person. Oh, and don't forget: "Pfizer [CEO] Albert Bourla sold $5.56 million worth of company shares on Monday [Nov. 9], the day the drugmaker said its COVID-19 vaccine was 90% effective based on interim trial results . . .." After Pfizer's stock price rose, and CEO sold off $5.56 million worth of Pfizer stock one can't help but wonder what he knew that we don't. [Reuters]

# # #
SOURCES

Antidote. Elan Kantor, "How Long Do Clinical Trials Take?" Antidote, March 24, 2020, https://www.antidote.me/blog/how-long-do-clinical-trials-take

CBS. David Martin, "Inside the Operation Warp Speed effort to get Americans a COVID-19 vaccine," CBS, 60 Minutes, Nov. 8, 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-19-vaccine-distribution-60-minutes-2020-11-08/

FDA. "Step 3: Clinical Research," U.S. Food & Drug Administration, https://www.fda.gov/patients/drug-development-process/step-3-clinical-research

Fortune. Riley Griffin, Drew Armstrong and Bloomberg, "Germany funded the development of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine—not U.S.’s Operation Warp Speed," Fortune, Nov. 9, 2020, https://fortune.com/2020/11/09/pfizer-vaccine-funding-warp-speed-germany/

HHS. "Fact Sheet: Explaining Operation Warp Speed; What's the goal?" Coronavirus, HHS, Oct. 28, 2020, https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/explaining-operation-warp-speed/index.html

NBC. Erika Edwards, "Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine promising, but many questions remain; Pfizer's vaccine is a new type of technology that's never been used in mass human vaccination," NBC News, Nov. 10, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/pfizer-s-covid-19-vaccine-promising-many-questions-remain-n1247102

NBC-2. David Gelles, "How to Ship a Vaccine at –80°C, and Other Obstacles in the Covid Fight; Developing an effective vaccine is the first step. Then comes the question of how to deliver hundreds of millions of doses that may need to be kept at arctic temperatures," New York Times, Sept. 19, 2020, print edition Sept. 19, 2020, p. A7, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/18/business/coronavirus-covid-vaccine-cold-frozen-logistics.html

NYT. Katie Thomas, David Gelles and Carl Zimmer, "Pfizer’s Early Data Shows Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective," New York Times, Nov. 12, 2020; print edition Nov. 10, 2020, p. A1, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/09/health/covid-vaccine-pfizer.html

Reuters. Reuters Staff, "Pfizer CEO made $5.6 million stock sale on same day as COVID-19 vaccine update: filing," Business News, Reuters, Nov. 11, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/pfizer-albert-bourla-stake/pfizer-ceo-made-5-6-million-stock-sale-on-same-day-as-covid-19-vaccine-update-filing-idUSKBN27R1XL

Stat. Helen Branswell, "Four reasons for encouragement based on Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine results," Statnews, Nov. 9, 2020, https://www.statnews.com/2020/11/09/four-reasons-for-encouragement-based-on-pfizers-covid-19-vaccine-results/

Stat-2. Ed Silverman, "STAT-Harris Poll: The share of Americans interested in getting Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible is dropping," Stat News, Oct. 19, 2020, https://www.statnews.com/pharmalot/2020/10/19/covid19-coronavirus-pandemic-vaccine-racial-disparities/

# # #

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Eradicating COVID-19

Eradicating COVID-19 Should Be Goal

Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, November 10, 2020, p. A6

A post-election return to a pre-COVID “normal” requires our understanding the difference between mitigation and eradication. The most important step in reaching one’s goal is to clearly define what it is.

Hospital beds and health workers, masks and social distancing are examples of essential, ongoing mitigation efforts when numbers of sick and dying coronavirus victims are surging. [Photo credit: President Trump rally; wikimedia; Hayden Schiff, Cincinnati, Oct. 13, 2020]

But the goal is – or should be – global eradication of the virus. Mitigation efforts may slow the surge of COVID, but they won’t eradicate it. It continues to spread.

What about a vaccine, or herd immunity?

Yes, a vaccine ultimately eliminated global smallpox. But consider the history.

Edward Jenner’s first experiments and papers were in the 1790s. The disease was not eliminated in the U.S. and Europe until the 1950s.

In 1959 the World Health Organization began its global eradication effort. The last death occurred in 1978, and WHO declared mission accomplished in 1980.

Although herd immunity (“survival of the fittest”) or “vaccination” might mitigate, neither is the answer. Each is rejected by many, takes too long, and produces many thousands of avoidable additional deaths.

Yes, the “test, trace, quarantine, and isolate” procedure would have been multiples cheaper and easier when experts first urged it. (See my April 4 column, “How to Eliminate COVID-19,” https://tinyurl.com/yxymwpol). But it is still the fastest and most effective path to the goal of eradication.

Impossible? Too expensive? Too slow? A Chinese city of nine million tested everyone in five days. We’ve spent trillions trying to boost a COVID-crippled economy. Even massive testing could be done for low billions.

It works. The World Health Organization reported countries’ COVID cases and deaths per 1 million population during an October week (not our worst). The U.S. was 23,000 cases and 576 deaths per one million. Australia 1068 and 35. New Zealand 314 and 5.

It also works politically.

The New Zealand prime minister’s electoral victory is credited to her management of COVID-19. And President Trump’s lack of response was a major issue in our recent election.

There are many alternative ways to do it today. Here are samples.

Start with a dozen or fewer cities or states. Choose the most successful, with metrics such as infected persons per 100,000 population, or lowest percentage infected of those tested.

Test-trace everyone in the selected areas every two weeks including newcomers to the area. Isolate or quarantine those infected and contacts.

In about two months, when no one tests positive, all businesses can open while testing continues. Gradually expand the number of participating areas. Disinterested cities and states need not participate.

Or the focus could start with the most vulnerable (the 5 percent age 80 and over; those in long term living facilities). Or groups working in proximity (meat packing and factory workers; college students). There are many alternatives.

Mitigation, yes. But until we make eradication our goal, as Dr. Anthony Fauci has put it, “We’re in for a whole lot of hurt.”
__________
Nicholas Johnson of Iowa City is a former co-director of the Iowa Institute for Health, Behavior and Environmental Policy. Contact: mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

# # #

SOURCES

Smallpox – History of Smallpox, CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/smallpox/history/history.html (“Almost two centuries after Jenner published his hope that vaccination could annihilate smallpox, on May 8, 1980, the 33rd World Health Assembly officially declared the world free of this disease. Eradication of smallpox is considered the biggest achievement in international public health.”)

China – “Covid-19: China’s Qingdao to test nine million in five days,” BBC News, October 12, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-54504785 (“The Chinese city of Qingdao is testing its entire population of nine million people for Covid-19 over a period of five days. The mass testing comes after the discovery of a dozen cases linked to a hospital treating coronavirus patients arriving from abroad. . . . The country has largely brought the virus under control.”)

WHO – "Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)," World Health Organization, Oct. 12, 2020, https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20201012-weekly-epi-update-9.pdf

New Zealand – Damien Cave, “Jacinda Ardern, Hero to Liberals Abroad, Is Validated at Home; New Zealand’s prime minister and her party are coasting to victory in national elections, though it is unclear how far she will push her progressive promises,” New York Times, Oct. 17, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/17/world/asia/jacinda-ardern-election-new-zealand.html (“Riding a wave of support for her ‘go hard, go early’ response to the coronavirus, which has effectively been stamped out in the country, [Prime Minister Jacinda] Ardern has now cemented her position as New Zealand’s most popular prime minister in generations, if not ever.”)

5% over 80 – “Population 65 Years and Over by Age, 1990, 2000, and 2010,” Infoplease (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census Brief), https://www.infoplease.com/us/population/population-65-years-and-over-age-1990-2000-and-2010

Fauci - Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb, “‘A whole lot of hurt’: Fauci warns of covid-19 surge, offers blunt assessment of Trump’s response,” Washington Post, Oct. 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/fauci-covid-winter-forecast/2020/10/31/e3970eb0-1b8b-11eb-bb35-2dcfdab0a345_story.html

# # #

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Reimagining College Football

CONTENTS

Column

Readers' Comments

Updates

Sources

Football Update Stories

Last Saturday (Oct. 17) The Gazette published a column of mine, reproduced below. In it I offer a sampling of examples of how removing college football from the academy and operating it as a for-profit corporation would benefit every stakeholder (such as, university presidents, faculty, athletic directors, coaches, players, NFL, fans, advertisers, casinos and sports gambling).

Little did I imagine that this past week's news would provide even more evidence supporting this approach. Here are some stories -- and links to them if you want more details. They include:
o additional football related "diversity, equity, and inclusion" charges and $20 million lawsuit, now associated with the University, at a time when the UI is dealing with its own similar charges and defections.

o a major additional source of, and focus on, COVID-19 concerns when Iowa's failures in dealing with the pandemic make it among the most dangerous states in the country and the University has not been among the best in dealing with it.

o an association of the University of Iowa with the major politically divisive kurfuffle involving football players kneeling during the National Anthem at ball games

o University favoritism of athletes over other students, including a $230,000 bill for their hotel accomodations
Jeff Johnson, "Former Iowa football players threaten lawsuit, demand $20 million, firing of Gary Barta, Kirk and Brian Ferentz; University of Iowa rejects the demands," The Gazette
(online), October 18, 2020 ("Eight former University of Iowa football players are demanding monetary compensation from the school and the firing of Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz and athletics director Gary Barta for intentional race discrimination, it was learned Sunday.") https://www.thegazette.com/subject/sports/hawkeyes/iowa-football/former-hawkeye-football-players-threaten-lawsuit-demand-20-million-firing-of-gary-barta-kirk-and-brian-ferentz-20201018
and see, Jeff Johnson, "Lawyer of 8 former Iowa football players asking for money and dismissals of Ferentzes and Barta responds; Iowa said it will not cede to his demands,"
The Gazette (online), October 19, 2020 (noting, "Iowa conducted an independent investigation of its football program over the summer through a Kansas City law firm, after many former Black Iowa players went on social media and expressed their negative experiences at the school, especially with strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle.") https://www.thegazette.com/subject/sports/hawkeyes/iowa-football/lawyer-of-8-former-iowa-football-players-asking-for-money-and-dismissals-of-ferentzes-and-barta-responds-20201019

Jeff Johnson, "Purdue football coach Jeff Brohm out for game against Iowa after testing positive for COVID-19,"
The Gazette (online), October 19, 2020 "[Purdue head football coach Jeff] Brohm is the eighth FBS [Football Bowl Subdivision] head coach to contract COVID-19, joining Kansas’ Les Miles, Florida’s Dan Mullen, Florida State’s Mike Norvell, Toledo’s Jason Candle, Arkansas State’s Blake Anderson, UCLA’s Chip Kelly and Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin. . . . The Big Ten’s rules call for any player testing positive to be out of action for 21 days, while coaches are subject to regular CDC recommendations, which are for a 10-day self isolation.") https://www.thegazette.com/subject/sports/hawkeyes/iowa-football/purdue-football-coach-jeff-brohm-out-for-saturdays-game-against-iowa-after-testing-positive-for-covid-20201019

Jeff Johnson, "Iowa football players will have the option to kneel or stand for national anthem,"
The Gazette (online), October 20, 2020; in print edition as "Hawks Have a Say," October 23, 2020, p. B1 ("Some Iowa Hawkeyes football players will kneel for the national anthem Saturday at Purdue to call attention to racial inequality and social justice. . . . Head coach Kirk Ferentz confirmed that players will have the option to kneel or stand for the anthem. The team’s leadership group met with him three different times to talk about it. The football program, of course, was the subject of an independent investigation to look into accusations by former and current players of racial inequalities and bullying during Ferentz’s 22-year tenure as head coach. Strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle lost his job, albeit with a $1.1-million settlement, and the investigation found that program rules 'perpetuated racial or cultural biases and diminished the value of cultural diversity.'”) https://www.thegazette.com/subject/sports/hawkeyes/iowa-football/hawkeye-football-players-will-have-the-option-to-kneel-or-stand-for-national-anthem-at-saturdays-season-opener-20201020

Jeff Johnson, "With Iowa football season finally here, daily testing and 'doing the right thing' can help it endure,"
The Gazette (online), October 23, 2020; in print edition as "COVID Football; Hawks return to field needing to do 'the right thing,'" October 24, 2020, p. B1 ("This is just the beginning of what . . . every player, coach and other personnel within the Iowa football program do on a daily basis during this surreal and delayed COVID-19 season. . . . This is nine straight weeks of games, with no byes. At least that’s what everyone hopes. COVID-19 might have other ideas. No one knows how this actually will turn out. No one.") https://www.thegazette.com/subject/sports/hawkeyes/iowa-football/with-iowa-football-season-finally-here-daily-testing-and-doing-the-right-thing-can-help-it-endure-20201023

Erin Jordan, "University of Iowa athletics spends $230K on hotel stays for coronavirus-positive student-athletes; Other University of Iowa students who test positive stay in residence halls,"
The Gazette, Oct. 10, 2020, print edition p. A1 ("The University of Iowa Athletic Department has spent more than $230,000 since June putting about 180 COVID-19-positive student-athletes up in hotel rooms and paying for their food. . . . The UI paid another $40,983 on per diem payments for student-athlete food while they were in hotel isolation.) https://www.thegazette.com/subject/sports/hawkeyes/university-of-iowa-coronavirus-covid-19-costs-athletes-hawkeye-football-20201020

Treat College Football Like Big Business
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, October 17, 2020, p. A6

In our capitalist, entertain-me society football will not, and need not, disappear. It just needs to stop being the muscular tail that wags the academic dog.

In 1906, when college football was killing 15 to 20 players a year, and permanently disabling 150 more, President Teddy Roosevelt told college presidents he’d outlaw the sport unless they made it safer. Reluctantly, they agreed to require helmets and organized what became today’s NCAA.

In 1939, University of Chicago President Robert Hutchins considered the school’s football team a distraction, scorned colleges that received more publicity from sports than education and research, and simply abolished football.

Today, few politically perceptive critics of football advocate the death penalty. So long as parents and players know the health risks, millionaires willingly play for billionaires in stadiums purchased by taxpayers, and fans know football’s cost in time and money, there will be football. [Photo credit: John Schultz/Quad City Times, Oct. 21, 2012.]

From preschool through college the goal is lifelong learning in a physically fit body. It’s what we’ve called “physical education” and the Greeks called “body, mind and spirit.”

College sports such as tennis, golf and swimming can provide benefits into one’s eighties. They’re as historically fundamental to curriculum as any classroom, lab, or studio course and should be funded as such.

College football is neither a student sport nor a career path. The NFL takes 1.6 percent of college players for an average stay of 3.3 years. It is a business, big billions business. In 40 states college football coaches are the highest paid public employees.

In a nation with obesity on the rise, cutting students’ lifetime sports so a farm club can send its ablest players through a cattle chute to the NFL is indefensible.

Moreover, college football creates conflicts of interest for everyone. University presidents find it easier to capitulate to coaches than fight. Athletic directors must rationalize taking advertising and skybox dollars from the alcohol and gambling industries. Coaches must encourage players’ in-class performance, while coaches’ multi-million-dollar salaries turn on players’ on-field performance. Non-tenured professors fear retribution for flunking players. Players who do seek a college education must choose between lab time and scheduled practice. [Photo credit: Nicholas Johnson, Riverside gambling casino ad on Kinnick Stadium big-screen display.]

There are many possible reforms. But what’s the win-win that preserves football while getting the elephant off the campus?

How about what the University did earlier this year when it contracted away its power plant – a perfectly legitimate university function -- to a for-profit, private utility?

Remove the football program from the University; recognize it as the part of the big money entertainment industry that it is. Let it lease the Kinnick Stadium, related land and structures, the “Hawkeyes” name, and associated assets at going commercial rates.

This farm club could pay its coach, and players, whatever its corporate board wished and employees could negotiate – eliminating the state’s embarrassment of the coach as highest paid public employee.

Remove the requirement players pretend to be students – while providing players who wanted to be students spring-semester-only and other accommodations. Get out from under other NCAA restrictions.

Iowa’s not the only football-challenged school. It shouldn’t be difficult to find enough more to make a league – and maybe even affiliate with the NFL, like baseball’s farm clubs.

Any lesser “accommodation” with college football will only perpetuate the conflicts.
_________________
Nicholas Johnson, a former FCC commissioner and sports law professor, provides more on this and other subjects at FromDC2Iowa.blogspot.com Contact: mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

SOURCES

President Teddy Roosevelt. Weiler, et al, Sports and the Law, p. 747.

Robert Hutchins, University of Chicago. https://president.uchicago.edu//directory/robert-maynard-hutchins

College football players as NFL draftees. 1.6% http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/research/estimated-probability-competing-professional-athletics

Average NFL career 3.3 years. https://www.espn.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/207780/current-and-former-nfl-players-in-the-drivers-seat-after-completing-mba-program

College football revenue. Top 100 teams 2014-15 $5.6 billion. https://www.ucribs.com/blog-post/ncaa-football-teams-made-more-money-than-many-nfl-teams-in-2015-infographic/

College coaches highest paid public employees in 40 states. https://fanbuzz.com/national/highest-paid-state-employees/

Overweight & obese. https://www.healthline.com/health/obesity-facts#1.more-than-one-third-of-adults-in-the-United-States-are-obese. (United States, 36.5% of adults are obese. Another 32.5 percent of American adults are overweight.)

UI’s power plant. “Iowa Facilities Management, Power Plant,” March 11, 2020, https://facilities.uiowa.edu/power-plant

READERS' COMMENTS

Posted to public on Facebook, with name:

Seems like a sensible solution to a long standing problem.
Steven Hulme, FB, Oct. 17, 7:37 AM

All good points!
Becky Jacobsen Strahl, FB, Oct. 17, 7:37 AM

FOOTBALL - This is an interesting perspective from Nicholas Johnson examining how to get better outcomes for sports programs and academic programs.
Resources for Life, FB, Oct. 17, 8:37 AM

This will definitely give you food for thought!!
Julie Johnson, FB, Oct 24, 3:40 PM

Posted to FromDC2Iowa, with readers' name:

This analysis is right on point. "College" athletics (in particular football and basketball) have not related to a University's primary mission for many years. The primary mission of a University is to educate. Not train for a career, not provide bread and circuses, not provide an "economic" engine for a town or a region -- the mission is to train minds and create a whole person to function in society. Does a football team "create spirit" for a University? Sure. But the proposed solution would continue to "create spirit" much in the way that, for example, Premier Football Teams create community spirit. And would allow the University to focus on its primary mission.
Prophet of Doom, Oct. 17, 7:49 AM

Thank you Mr. Johnson. It's a great idea. In my opinion football should not be played by any individual in organized sports until they are at least 21 years old. Any responsible, caring parent should not let their child subject themselves to the injuries that football causes, Sometimes permanet injuries for the rest of their lives.

Locally, we had a high school student who was a quadriplegic for the rest his life from injuries at at school football game. Sad. Very sad.

However, I purpose an alternative sport to football. School maintanence teams. Think of the poosibilities. There is many ways this can go. Start 'em in middle school. Or, if they were in band or chorus, everyone plays.
Iowa Tom, Oct. 19, 4:12 PM

Emails sent to mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org:
(senders' names omitted because email was a non-public communication for which use of name was neither requested nor granted.)

Subject: Genius
GENIUS solution for divorcing football from higher education. Thank you!!!
Oct. 17, 10:34 AM

Subject: Your editorial today
You are 100% on the mark regarding your editorial on college football. It has gotten totally out of hand. I used to have season tickets as a student in the 70’s and a faculty in the 80’s but the corporate takeover of college football has totally turned me off. I always enjoy your editorials.
Oct. 17, 3:54 PM

Subject: Column "Treat college football like..."
I always learn something when I read one of your columns! I had not known of Teddy Roosevelt's ultimatum which led to the creation of the NCAA. I must commend you once again for not exempting the sacred cows when you "speak truth to power." Not only that, but you sign off with your real name and email address rather than using the distancing effect of the nom de plume...I mention this only because (I believe) there was a counter-example in the only letter to the editor on the same page as your guest column; methinks that the writer who called Chuck Grassley a "good egg" was not given the name "May Day" at birth. Judging by the gist of the letter, I doubt that the author was aligning themselves with the rather leftist implications that the holiday by that name has assumed over the years; judging by current polling trends, I rather suspect that the author was evincing a (Freudian ?) general call of distress. (A distress which might be best understood by those in East Iowa City who only have one yard sign in their front yard - "Phil Hemmingway for Supervisor - Republican" -- which may be signalling an orientation regarding other races which must remain veiled). But I digress.

Keep up the good work and stay well,

In '65 I was 17 - runnin' on empty...
Oct. 18, 2:03 PM

# # #

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Life Before Death

The purpose of this blog post is to provide some context regarding the video of a Nicholas Johnson talk in 1971 you may find of current relevance and interest.

Why? There are a number of possible reasons. It touches on questions you may be asking yourself about your own life -- past and future. It provides a contemporaneous insight into the 1960s and '70s -- and the Federal Communications Commission during those years -- from the perspective of an FCC commissioner. It discusses electric cars and why men should share household tasks. It reminds us that presidential attacks on the media are nothing new, and puts in context the current effort of the FCC and broadcasters to permit even greater accumulations of media power as consistent with the statutory standard of "public interest." It explores the impact that television (and today's "social media") can have in shaping our politics and government, peace and war, children's education and values, and the products with which we surround ourselves. Finally, I hope you'll find the stories, extemporaneous stand-up lines, and brief readings simply entertaining television. [Photo credit: tomislav medak, wikimedia.org]

To see the video in the context of the entire Nicholas Johnson YouTube site, click here: https://www.youtube.com/user/NJohnsonIowa, scroll down to the row of videos labeled "Presentations - 1970-1979," and click on the one titled "Life Before Death, Grinnell."

If you want to skip that step, and the "Backgroud Basics," below, and go directly to the video, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfGunRXKu3U

Background Basics
Here are the truncated textual basics associated with the video as they appear on the YouTube page (https://www.youtube.com/user/NJohnsonIowa):
"Tactics for Survival in the Corporate State: Life, Love and Other Stuff," Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, April 1, 1971, Broadcast on Iowa Educational Broadcast Network, April 12, 1971. The lecture runs an hour and ten minutes. The Q&A, which is about 21 minutes, begins at 1:10:38.

An earlier version was presented November 5, 1970, as "The Barbara Weinstock Lecture on the Morals of Trade" ("Life Before Death in the Corporate State"), Pauley Ballroom, University of California, Berkeley, published in booklet form by the University in 1971.

Some of the material in both of these largely extemporaneous talks ultimately found its way into Johnson's book, Test Pattern for Living (Bantam, January 1, 1972; 2nd ed. June 2013), https://tinyurl.com/y3ssgmhm.

With thanks to the University of Iowa Library Archives for the raw source material, and Gregory Johnson, ResourcesForLife.com, Iowa City, for the assembling of this single video and associated technical support.
Contents/Index for Video
If you have not yet watched the video, what follows below will be of little use. It breaks down the video into seven relatively arbitrary sections, noting starting and finishing times. If you have watched it, and would like to find and replay an item, or share it with a friend, this material will provide reminders, take on meaning for you, and help speed your search.

0:00:08-0:05:00 -- Opening; stand-up remarks; introduction/overview of topics (Tommy Smothers and FCC, others, future of Grinnell program; walk on the moon; garbage in environment and our heads; "Tactics for Survival in the Corporate State: Life, Love and Other Stuff;" antenna tower painting vs. programming)

0:05:00-0:12:20 -- Introduction to impact of TV technology (omnipresent; impact technology generally; 9 years of life watching TV; impact programming as well as commercials; examples; male cosmetics; impact on race relations, violence; anti-smoking commercials, public exposure to truth; need for broader study)

0:12:21-0:18:21 -- Range of societal concerns (TV as component; problems predicted; upswings in mental illness, narcotics addicts, youth suicides, alcoholism; all feel pressures, artists and neurotics first to notice; country music; passive, unalive)

0:18:22-0:30:25 -- Corporate TV relation to societal concerns (time-consuming, plus: principle source of information, culture, moral values, political values; almost exclusively used for merchandizing, consumption, consumer manipulation; corporate environmental impact vs. impact on brains; TV owned and programmed by big business; all-purpose commercial; nutrition; why original dramas cancelled; P&G policy)

0:30:26-0:47:26 -- What is television selling? What are the consequences? (conspicuous consumption; examples; personal identity from products; "drugs" (and other products) are the answer to life's problems; commercials are persuasive, programming has no impact; consequence: "corporate interlock;" electric cars; commercial for anything selling everything else; TV impact on women; oppression of the system leads to rotten goals)

0:47:27-1:10:48 -- The Antidote (surrounded by multiple media, people, who've bought TV's pitch; individuals living empty lives; West Virginia woods; our potential, what a "whole life" can be: love, daily "creative time," relation to nature, productive activity (men sharing household tasks); how bring into life within urban corporate state; baking soda; commuting by bicycle; simple, older machines; less you have the better you feel; why Holiday Inn bought the woods; religions, philosophers, psychiatrists share these insights; citizens groups and media reform; cable TV; make your own TV programs)

1:10:49-1:30:17/48 -- Q&A (Pacifica, other audience-supported broadcasting; commercial broadcasters in business of supplying listeners and viewers to advertisers; President Nixon, Pentagon, FCC attempt to forbid music with "drug lyrics;" "For Whom Does Bell Toil?"; anti-cigarette smoking commercials; public primarily depends on TV news and soap operas for information; political attacks on journalism)

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Saturday, September 26, 2020

SOMETHING SMELLS FISHY

THE SANTA FE-IOWA CITY CONSPIRACY

(This is an explanatory link from a mysterious Facebook post, Sept. 26, 2020.)

Iowa River fish swam inside the former Hancher Auditorium’s orchestra pit, during the 2008 flood.

Thirty granite fish are now swimming outside the new Hancher Auditorium, in the “Wellspring” art installation unveiled Friday morning to a drumroll provided by University of Iowa Marching Band percussionist Jenna Springer.

Artist Colette Hosmer joined the ceremony via video from her Santa Fe, N.M., home.
For "the rest of the story," this wonderful, fishy story, see Diana Nollen, "Wellspring' of art at Hancher as granite fish sculptures make their debut," The Gazette, Sept. 26, 2020, p. A3, https://www.thegazette.com/subject/life/arts-and-culture/wellspring-of-art-at-hancher-as-granite-fish-sculptures-make-their-debut-20200925

Photo credit: wikimedia.org

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